Q&A with a CASC Certificant: Becky Ziegler-Otis of Ambulatory Surgical Center of Stevens Point
Becky Ziegler-Otis, MHA, RHIA, CPHQ, CHC, CASC, has served as the administrator of the Ambulatory Surgical Center of Stevens Point (Wisc.) since January 2008. The ASC is an independent, multi-specialty center which opened in 2006. This was the first role in a surgical center for Ziegler-Otis. She previously held positions in larger health systems.
Q: When did you take your CASC exam? How did you prepare for it?
Becky Ziegler-Otis: I successfully passed the exam in 2011. To prepare for the exam, I took the Ambulatory Surgical Center Association’s CASC review course. This was extremely valuable because it covered a variety of subject matter that was essential for an ASC administrator. I also intensely studied the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ Interpretative Guidelines and my own facility policies and procedures to make sure I had a strong grasp of all areas of the center. As my background is not clinical in nature, I focused more on the clinical policies, particularly those related to sterile processing. Not only did this provide me with a stronger understanding of this aspect of our operations, but it better prepared me for the CASC exam.
Q: What do you recall about it?
BZO: I recall the test being very thorough. I was impressed by the variety of subject matter covered, which included credentialing, compliance and regulations and patient care. There were actually a few questions on the exam for which I have used the answers in my professional work.
Prior to working as an ASC administrator, I held a variety of positions in other healthcare facilities in areas including credentialing, risk management, performance improvement and health information management. This background was very helpful in navigating the content of the exam.
When I concluded the exam, I was not sure if I had passed. I recall a great sense of wellbeing that I had worked hard to prepare and actually take the test—regardless of what the outcome would be. The entire process of preparing for the exam was very worthwhile.
Q: Why did you elect to pursue the credential at that point in your ASC career?
BZO: I pursued the credential to demonstrate my competence as an ASC administrator. Obtaining the credential would require a commitment to ongoing education through continuing education credits, which I knew would only further commit me to continuing to grow in my expertise in the industry. Taking a certification test was not new to me. I had previously done so on prior occasions for my profession, such as when I pursued the Compliance Certification for a Compliance Professional and the Certification in Healthcare Quality. I knew the value these certifications provided me in the past and knew I would reap the same benefits with the CASC certification.
Q: How do you think earning the credential has benefited you in your career in the ASC industry and your ASC?
BZO: It has benefited me in a variety of ways, including self-confidence in my role as an administrator. Requiring continuing education credits is another benefit as it forces one to attend conferences, benchmark and learn from others. The ASC industry is constantly changing and there is always so much to learn.
Q: Was pursuing the CASC credential a worthwhile experience?
BZO: Pursing the credential was a journey for me. I had decided the year prior that it would be a professional goal for me in 2011. The process of preparing for the exam, which included attending the review course, is a great way for any new administrator to learn more about the industry. I would encourage new administrators who may not be ready to take the exam to consider taking the course to become more immersed in the ASC industry.
Q: What would you say to ASC administrators who are unsure if the CASC credential is right for them?
BZO: I would say if you are an ASC administrator, this is definitely the credential you need to pursue. The journey you will go through in preparation for the exam will enhance your knowledge of and professionalism in the ASC industry. There is also the sense of self-satisfaction you receive when you pass the exam, and it will definitely distinguish you as an ASC expert and professional.
I currently serve on the exam writing committee for the CASC exam. This has been an awesome experience. I have learned first-hand the relevance and integrity of the questions which cover so many areas intended to attest to the knowledge and expertise of a successful administrator. This experience even further validates for me the need to encourage ASC administrators to earn this credential. You will not be disappointed in the value it provides.
A significant number of ASC administrators have a clinical background. Since my background was health information management, I assumed I would not be successful with the exam. I was mistaken. I would encourage all administrators—regardless of clinical or non-clinical background—to pursue the certification.